Being Transferred from the Power of Darkness into the Kingdom of Light, 22nd Thursday (I), September 3, 2015

Fr. Roger J. Landry
Visitation Convent of the Sisters of Life, Manhattan
Thursday of the 22nd Week of Ordinary Time, Year I
Memorial of St. Gregory the Great
September 3, 2015
Col 1:9-14, Ps 98, Lk 5:1-11

To listen to an audio recording of this homily, please click here: 

 

The following points were attempted in the homily: 

  • Today St. Paul shows us the content of his prayer for the Colossians, a prayer inspired by the Holy Spirit. He prayed that they might:
    • Be filled with the knowledge of God’s will — so that God’s will be done rather than changed;
    • Through all spiritual wisdom (sophia) and understanding (sunesis) — so that they might look at things as God sees them and understand how to be able to put them into practice;
    • To walk in a manner worthy of the Lord — Faith is ultimately dynamic, following Christ, walking as he walks;
    • So as to be fully pleasing — To please the Lord is a summary of holiness; 
    • In every good work bearing fruit — Faith overflows in the fruit of love;
    • And growing in the knowledge of God — We grow to know God as a friend the more we walk in his ways, the more we know his will, the more we seek to please him;
    • Strengthened with every power, in accord with his glorious might — God gives us his help so that we might achieve we would never be able to do on our own;
    • For all endurance (hypomone) and patience (makrothumia) — God can strengthen us to perseverance in fidelity even when everything is assailing those of us who live by faith, as the Colossians were being assailed by the Gnostic heresy;
    • With joy giving thanks to the Father — The great characteristic of Christianity is joyful thanksgiving for all God’s blessings, especially the blessing of himself, his presence;
    • Who has made you fit to share in the inheritance of the holy ones in light — God has made us worthy to share in the treasure of the saints!
    • He delivered us from the power of darkness and transferred us to the Kingdom of his beloved Son — Jesus has rescued us from the kingdom of darkness and brought us into the Kingdom of God’s Son;
    • In whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins — We have redemption from sin by union with the Son of God in his kingdom of light through his mercy.
  • St. Paul’s prayer was for us to experience the fullness of the Christian life in this way. We’ll continue tomorrow pondering how this will conform us to Christ as the “icon of the invisible God,” but today we can make two applications of this exodus from darkness into light, from sin into forgiveness, from squandering our inheritance to receiving it, from cowardice and quitting to hypomone and makrothumia, from working fundamentally on our own to working by God’s power, from being filled with worldly wisdom to being inundated with God’s wisdom and understanding, and from seeking our will to doing God’s.
  • The first is St. Peter. We see his transition from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of light in the trust he showed in doing what Jesus asked him. On the Sea of Galilee, fish were caught at night in shallow water, yet Jesus asked him in broad daylight to put out into the deep and lower the nets. Even though that went against all his experience, even though he was exhausted, the nets were cleaned and he had caught nothing the night before, he did it, and we know how he was rewarded. After that, he tried to excuse himself from the Lord on account of his sins, but he discovered Jesus had come to bring him redemption, the forgiveness of sins. And after that he left the biggest catch of his life behind him, along with his boats and nets, to follow Jesus and to become a fisherman on a far more important expedition. He would eventually become a model of someone united with God’s will, filled with divine wisdom and understanding, who walked in the manner of the Lord until crucifixion, bearing fruit, growing in friendship with God, strengthened by God’s endurance and patience, full of joy.
  • The second figure is St. Gregory the Great, who following St. Peter constantly put out into the deep in the first “new evangelization” at the end of the sixth century, of England and so many of the feudal kingdoms beginning in France. He was one who wrote Dialogues for common folks, Pastoral Letters for priests and bishops, and a Commentary on Job for monks precisely so that they might be filled with the knowledge of God and his wisdom. As we saw in the breviary lesson this morning, he was well aware of his sinfulness and weakness, but also of the journey on which the Lord had led him, the journey from darkness to light, and so he helped others to make that same holy trek. And the way he summarized all of it was through the liturgy, which he reformed, both with regard to its music (Gregorian Chant), with regard to the need for mercy (by introducing the three cycles of three Kyries at the beginning of Mass), the focus on God’s grace by inserting the “Hanc igitur” in the Eucharistic Prayer, and even the dependence on God the Father by moving the place of the Our Father in the liturgy. He wanted the Mass to be precisely that means by which we’re filled with a sense of God’s will who tells us to do this in his memory, that great journey from darkness to light.
  • As we come forward on his feast day, we ask God to give us everything that St. Paul prayed that the Christians in Colossae would receive, so that, like St. Peter and St. Gregory, we might be filled with God’s wisdom and understanding, be willing to do what is humanly incredible — like catching fish at exactly the wrong time according to human logic — and launch out into the deep to catch as many as possible for Christ.

The readings for today’s Mass were: 

Reading 1
COL 1:9-14

Brothers and sisters:
From the day we heard about you, we do not cease praying for you
and asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of God’s will
through all spiritual wisdom and understanding
to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord,
so as to be fully pleasing, in every good work bearing fruit
and growing in the knowledge of God,
strengthened with every power, in accord with his glorious might,
for all endurance and patience,
with joy giving thanks to the Father, who has made you fit to share
in the inheritance of the holy ones in light.
He delivered us from the power of darkness
and transferred us to the Kingdom of his beloved Son,
in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

Responsorial Psalm
PS 98:2-3AB, 3CD-4, 5-6

R. (2) The Lord has made known his salvation.
The LORD has made his salvation known:
in the sight of the nations he has revealed his justice.
He has remembered his kindness and his faithfulness
toward the house of Israel.
R. The Lord has made known his salvation.
All the ends of the earth have seen
the salvation by our God.
Sing joyfully to the LORD, all you lands;
break into song; sing praise.
R. The Lord has made known his salvation.
Sing praise to the LORD with the harp,
with the harp and melodious song.
With trumpets and the sound of the horn
sing joyfully before the King, the LORD.
R. The Lord has made known his salvation.

Gospel
LK 5:1-11

While the crowd was pressing in on Jesus and listening to the word of God,
he was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret.
He saw two boats there alongside the lake;
the fishermen had disembarked and were washing their nets.
Getting into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon,
he asked him to put out a short distance from the shore.
Then he sat down and taught the crowds from the boat.
After he had finished speaking, he said to Simon,
“Put out into deep water and lower your nets for a catch.”
Simon said in reply,
“Master, we have worked hard all night and have caught nothing,
but at your command I will lower the nets.”
When they had done this, they caught a great number of fish
and their nets were tearing.
They signaled to their partners in the other boat
to come to help them.
They came and filled both boats
so that the boats were in danger of sinking.
When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at the knees of Jesus and said,
“Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man.”
For astonishment at the catch of fish they had made seized him
and all those with him,
and likewise James and John, the sons of Zebedee,
who were partners of Simon.
Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid;
from now on you will be catching men.”
When they brought their boats to the shore,
they left everything and followed him.
Screen Shot 2015-09-04 at 12.53.13 PM